In April 2017, Black Spiders gave their fans one final chance to raise their middle fingers aloft and yell ‘fuck you’ at their five, grizzled faces before hanging up their riding capes for good.

In the months leading up to their final shows, Spiby was undergoing rehabilitation. Not in the cliched rock n’ roll sense, dear reader, but for an operation on his left hand, which learned physicians say is an important part of the human anatomy when you’re doling out sweet riffs left, right and centre.

“When we did the farewell shows, it gave me such a confidence boost that I was even able to play guitar without the pain and medication that I’d had for the last three years,” says Spiby. “I decided that it was time to do the only thing I’ve been doing since I was at school.”

Please welcome, ladies and gentlemen, Failed Magician. It’s the title of Spiby’s new solo release; it’s not a concept album about sleight of hand tricks gone awry, accidentally sawing an assistant in half or drowning before a horrified studio audience.

“Me and Ozzy [Lister, former Spider riffologist] were working somewhere in the world with another band,” explains Spiby, “and during a very one-sided drunken conversation late at night, he slurred the words “I just don’t want to end up being a failed magician. It’s obviously not what he meant to say, but I kept it under my hat to use at some point in the future and here we are. It conjures up so many things.”

There comes a time in a man’s life when the blues become mandatory listening and this in turn has informed his new songs.

“I have sorrow in my pocket and exorcising the ghosts is a way out of the darkness,” he says. “There were a lot of deaths in rock during 2017 that made me think about mortality, depression and life. There’s a thread that goes through all of this and it’s basically a collection of domestic blues songs, sometimes seen from both sides of the story.

“Sabbath and Zeppelin have a lot to answer for, as I guess do the Beatles and the Stones, for embedding that feeling and influence into their music,” he continues. “Everyone that has since been influenced by them, directly or indirectly. Maybe it just knocks all the right doors and rings all the right bells. I reckon mine’s a buzzer.”

Spiby called upon fans to fund his solo outing via Pledgemusic and smashed his goal to bits.

“That’s when shit got real, as they say,” explains Spiby. “I had a bit of a panic on, getting the songs together and finished; things started to take more of a shape I liked and could sort of understand. It started out so simple and I made it really complicated for myself and recorded 30 odd songs, which is a fuck load of time and effort.”

For his next trick, he assembled a crack team of ne’er do wells to help bring his ideas to life in the studio with Matt Ellis at the production console.

“It’s quite a mixed bunch of losers really,” he says. “All solid musicians and amazing people; All my type, which is a very hard thing to find in any lifetime. It’s a fairly big entourage.”

And for your edification and delight, here is an exhaustive list of who’s contributed: Luke Athiko (The Defiled, guitar), Simon Bismark (Daken guitarist, bass) and James Maiden (Future ex Wife, guitar). Then there were three drummers who arrived to keep some semblance of order: Simon Smith (Wedding Present/ChaCha Cohen), Tony Arthy (The Wonder Stuff) and Richie Mills (Cable/ Imogen Heap). Danni Maibaum (Double NoNo/ Dirty Blood) recorded some vocals. Adam Thistlewaite (Massive Wagons) and Lee Storrar (Servers) dropped by to add guitars to some of Failed Magician’s more stripped back moments, as well as a roving gang of local ukulele players. And his kids too. You’re probably on it as well. Don’t remember? You were out of control with all that booze in the studio. Shame on you.

“If it’s the last thing I ever get to do, recording wise, I’ll die a very happy man,” says Spiby of his solo debut. “The greatest success is just even getting it done in the first place. Proud as fuck. That’s me.”

Pledgers will also receive a bonus collection of cover versions, including a surprisingly haunting version of Alexander O’ Neal’s 1987 hit, Criticize.

“I didn’t just want to do a bunch of rock covers,” says Spiby. “There had to be a mood to the songs, or lyrics of the songs chosen, that suited the mood of the original songs and how I wanted to present the whole music as my first solo effort.

“Criticize is such a great tune that had stuck in my mind and was very relevant to how I felt at the time,” he continues. “It seemed the perfect choice, but I didn’t know it would turn out as well as it did – but it did. It was that or California by Dre and Tupac.”

There’s always a lot to be said for something made with authenticity and righteousness, no pretence, and as ever Spiby isn’t trying for a single second to fit in. Given the scope of this first solo outing it’s clear his instincts are as ‘on the moneys’ as they’ve ever been.

Pre-order here:

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